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Habs hope to rebound at home against Stars

by Magalie Lafreni?re
STARS (19-16-11) at CANADIENS (22-21-4)

Last 10: Dallas 4-6-0; Montreal 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the first and only meeting between the clubs. In their lone meeting of last season, the Canadiens topped the Stars in a 3-1 victory, with Alex Kovalev scoring the game-winner.

Big Story: Dallas' loss to the Flyers on Tuesday moved Philadelphia into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and bumped the Canadiens out of a playoff position. The Habs could potentially regain that spot with a win over the Stars on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Stars: With a 6-3 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, the Stars have now lost their last eight on the road and their first two of a three-game road trip. Dallas outshot Philadelphia 30-28 despite the loss. James Neal scored early in the second period, but the Flyers responded with five straight goals before Steve Ott would slip two pass Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton late in third period. Ott hadn't had a point in his previous six games.

"We have to give ourselves a chance (and) we're not doing that lately on the road, we're shooting ourselves in the foot a lot," said forward Brad Richards. "The League is a good League and when you're on the road it's a lot tougher when you do that. Chances are you're going to get burned."

Canadiens: Montreal's first line has been suffering since losing left wing Andre Kostitsyn to injury. Neither Tomas Plekanec nor Mike Cammalleri have had a point since the injury took place on Dec. 31. Kostitsyn is unlikely to return before the Olympics after undergoing knee surgery last Friday. Hopefully, the Habs have found a winger in their four days of rest to get the top line scoring again.

Their last match was a 2-1 overtime loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Devils on Saturday. Former Devils center Scott Gomez scored for the Canadiens on the power play, before New Jersey's Zach Parise sealed it for the Devils on a breakaway.

"We knew they are the best team in the League and that it was going to be a tight game, and it was," said Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak. "It could have gone either way. In OT, it was about luck and it was about one shot. Unfortunately for us, they scored."

Who's Hot: Stars forward Loui Eriksson, with an assist on Neal's goal, has four points in three games. ... Gomez has had 12 points in his last nine games, mostly due to the addition of Benoit Pouliot to his line with Brian Gionta.

Injury Report: Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman is on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury, while Mike Ribeiro is expected to be out for 4-6 after having a tracheotomy from a throat contusion suffered during a Jan. 6 game against the Rangers. ... Andrei Kostisyn (knee) is expected to miss at least six weeks. His brother, Sergei, is expected to miss another week with an ankle injury that is taking longer than expected to heal. Georges Laraque (upper-body) resumed practice.

Stat Pack: The Stars haven't been to Montreal since Jan. 16, 2006, when former Habs center and current Star Mike Ribeiro scored two goals for the Canadiens.

Puck Drop: Four days off are perhaps what the Canadiens need to regroup as they remain in a heated playoff race. They could certainly do so with a Dallas squad that has been struggling on the road.

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